3 firms get panel nod to resume mining
The monitoring committee constituted by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court on Friday gave its consent to three mining firms, which operated in Bellary and Chitradurga, to resume mining.
Official sources said the committee comprising three members - H R Srinivasa, Director, Department of Mines & Geology, Dipak Sarmah, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, and U V Singh, Chief Conservator of Forest - held a meeting in Bangalore where the final clearance was given to the three firms. The decision taken by panel will be placed before the CEC.
Except the National Mineral Development Corporation, a public sector company, the Supreme Court has not permitted any of the mines in Karnataka to carry out mining in the last one year.
The lease holders who got clearance to resume mining are B Kumara Gowda and Nadeem Minerals of Bellary, and R Praveenchandra of Chitradurga. The CEC, during its survey in September last, had not found the three firms indulging in illegal mining, sources said.
Despite the committee’s clearance, these companies will not be able to resume mining immediately as they will have to obtain statutory permits from various agencies, including environmental clearance.
As per the apex court’s direction, the mining firms will have to implement the Rehabilitation and Reclamation (R&R) package as worked out by the CEC.
Official sources said the three lessees may together produce 1.6 million tonnes of iron ore a year. Kumara Gowda has a lease area of 54.25 ha, Nadeem Minerals 53,20 ha, and Praveenchandra 122.22 ha.
As many as 15 ‘A’ category mines have been waiting for permission from the monitoring committee to resume their operations. In all, the apex court has permitted 18 ‘A’ category mines to extract iron ore provided they follow the norms.
Amlan Aditya Biswas, Deputy Commissioner, Bellary, when contacted by this paper said mining would be allowed if it did not violate the law of the land.
“The R&R plan and the MNREGA will have to be implemented by the lessees. There will be no scope for any error,” he said.
The court has categorised 166 mines of Karnataka spread over Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur under three categories - A, B and C. While 45 mines fall under ‘A’ category, 72 are under ‘B’ and 49 under ‘C’ category.
Mines falling under ‘A’ category have not been found to be doing any illegal activity. There are sub-groups too under this category - A and A1. While lessees coming under ‘A’ category have been found to have indulged in “very marginal illegality”, the A1 mines have not violated any norms.
In the case of ‘B’ category, dumping of ore was found to be done outside the mining area. The violation was less than 10 per cent. But mining firms under ‘C’ category had extracted iron ore illegally in more than 10 per cent or outside the permitted area.
While the ‘B’ category mines have been directed by the court to pay Rs five crore as penalty per ha, besides Rs one crore per ha for over-dumping, the ‘C’ category mines, which will not be allowed to resume mining, will be auctioned.
There are 49 leases under ‘C’ category which will not get permission from the court to resume mining.
Some of the lessees under this category are - I M Vrishabendrayya, Veeyam Ltd, Ambika Gorpade, Hothur Traders, Associated Mining, Ramgad Minerals, Trident Minerals, Allum Veerabhadrappa, Matha Minerals, Deccan Mining Syndicate, V S Lad & Sons, Mysore Minerals, H G Ranganagowda, Thungabhadra Minerals among others.
But some of the lease holders, who fall under the banned category, also have different lease areas under ‘A’ and ‘B’ categories.